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|Chapter 16 Anne in dramatic change in Bath...
Written by Moni
(10/21/2008 10:08 a.m.)
One thing that is dawning on me is the swift change in how everyone acts in Bath, from Anne's perspective. How she changes, too, acting in ways she doesn't want to, to please her family. She pretends to love the house, and acts in certain ways to please, covering up what she feels inside.
Yet she is more secure, as she has Lady Russell at hand, the assurance of the good opinion of the favoured Crofts back home, she has come to really like. Mrs Croft likes her, and Anne feels she may have become a favourite with her. She feels good about the people occupying her previous home, as good as she can, at any rate. They are good people. She has to feel more valued, certainly, especially with all the appreciation people showed regarding her actions over the Lyme incident.
Here her father seems to attribute Lady Russell's own thoughts about Anne's mind, to Mrs Clay, of all people! Anne has to cop that, as any change in Sir Walter who begins and ends in vanity, is impossible. And we are perhaps given reason to believe Mrs Clay now has a cultured mind, yet there is no evidence of it, or has something escaped me...
(Sir Walter to Mrs Clay) "...To your fine mind, I well know the sight of beauty is a real gratification."
What was the meaning of the look Mrs Clay gave to the sisters, in this paragraph following? And why was there no reaction from Elizabeth to the fine mind comment, as Anne had anticipated?
"He spoke and looked so much in earnest, that ***Anne was not surprised to see Mrs. Clay stealing a glance at Elizabeth and herself***. Her countenance, perhaps, might express some watchfulness; but the ***praise of the fine mind did not appear to excite a thought in her sister***. The lady could not but yield to such joint entreaties, and promise to stay."
Yet there is a kind of change in Sir Walter, giving Anne compliments, which are very unusual. At the start of the chapter Anne thinks her father may be considering marrying this woman...
"In the course of the same morning, Anne and her father chancing to be alone together, he began to ***compliment her on her improved looks: he thought her "less thin in her person, in her cheeks; her skin, her complexion, greatly improved: clearer, fresher***. Had she been using any thing in particular?" -- "No, nothing." "Merely Gowland," he supposed. -- "No, nothing at all." "Ha! he was surprised at that"; and added, "Certainly you cannot do better than continue as you are; you cannot be better than well; or I should recommend Gowland, the constant use of Gowland, during the spring months. Mrs. Clay has been using it at my recommendation, and you see what it has done for her. You see how it has carried away her freckles."
Personally, I think this is hilarious and can picture it. Everything in Anne's world has changed, and he attributes it to a skin cream, only. What is wrong with the man? He couldn't be more out of touch. Even if he speaks well to her, you get the impression it's pretty empty. Even Anne is aware her father's helping Mrs Clay with her complexion isn't working!
"If Elizabeth could but have heard this! Such personal praise might have struck her, ***especially as it did not appear to Anne that the freckles were at all lessened***. But everything must take its chance. The evil of the marriage would be much diminished, if Elizabeth were also to marry. As for herself, she might always command a home with Lady Russell."
Yet Anne seems so calm about this, a change so huge to the present state of things. I suppose she feels that Elizabeth must have Mr Elliot and he will bring her happiness. And it is quite clear Anne imagines herself quickly relocating to Lady Russell in that event. Perhaps she would welcome it? It's still pretty amazing, but at least she knows Lady Russell values her for her fine mind, which is really fine, and not just imagined like Mrs Clay's. Thoughts on this big change?
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